In this Everyday Conversation on Race, I’m joined by white ex-police officer Charles Hayes, author of the book “Blue Bias,” and Elmer Dixon founder and former leader of the Seattle Black Panthers. They share their personal histories, their work around race and their perspectives on fighting against racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and ensuing world-wide protests.
In 1968, Elmer Dixon and his brother Aaron came to Oakland to hear Bobby Seale the chairman of the Black Panther Party speak. Right after, they decided to form a chapter of the Black Panther Party in Seattle. It was the first chapter outside of California, and lasted until 1982, making it the longest running Black Panther chapter. The medical clinic they started is still operating.
Today, Elmer still works to eliminate racism, injustice and inequities in the US, as president of the Executive Diversity Services an organizational development consulting firm.
Charles Hayes grew up in Oklahoma and Texas in the 1940s and 1950s. He joined the Marines at 17, and four years later became a police officer in Dallas. He says that that the area and the department were racist to the core.
Charles burnt out after several years due to constant calls to break up situations of domestic violence. He didn’t have the maturity to understand the deeper issues affecting people in these situations.
After leaving the police department he began learning about life and reading in order to educate himself. His life changed when he read a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King. That’s when he decided to work on unraveling the racist education he got.
As a consultant, Elmer had the opportunity to work with police. After leading successful programs for police in Chicago, he went on work with police in Washington, Ireland and other cities. As a member of the Black Panther Party, which was named the Number One threat to US Security by the FBI, working with the police was a major shift in perspective for him.
Key topics in this episode:
• The origin, and manifestations of police bias
• The role of neuroscience, external stimuli and stressors in the development of unconscious bias amongst cops
• How the police department attracts people with authoritarian personality
• Deaths of unarmed Black and Brown people at the hands of police
• The murders of George Floyd. Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, along with the confluence of people sheltering in place, not working, struggling financially has put us at a tipping point in this country and the world
• How some Black police officers internalize bias and brutalize people in the Black community
• Solutions to end racist police practices
• Lessons learned from the Black Panther Party for today’s fight against racism, police brutality and injustice
• Why a coherent vision and plan is necessary to sustain momentum and create systemic change, and what that might look like.
email Charles Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org
email Elmer Dixon EDixon@ExecutiveDiversity.com